2007-11-05

presidential elections...

I have to say that while I haven't done nearly enough research on all the candidates to come to a conclusion as to who I would vote for, I'm not feeling overly hopeful so far. Perhaps it's just the case that I'm a person who doesn't relate well to all the values and ideals of politics, I may be too much of an idealist. Here are my thoughts so far, after reading some of Barack Obama's ideas, as well as Ron Paul's.

Ron Paul:

I don't like his foreign policy at all. He spends most of his time talking about withdrawing from all international organizations which put any kind of restraint on what our government can or cannot do, but then says in one sentence that he would like to keep open relations with other countries. I can't help but feel that he is pulling the "we're Americans and we should be able to do whatever we want" attitude, which is why so much of the world thinks we're so arrogant, unthinking and abusive. I also can't help but feel that in withdrawing from these organizations rather than seeking to better them in the ways they are lacking, he would further distance America from the international community, which in this current world can only make things worse for everyone, I think. Every country's actions effect every other country in such a small world, and it will take compromise and cooperation to overcome global problems we face, we can't just withdraw into ourselves and assume our problems with the rest of the world will go away.

I also don't like his policy on immigration - I agree that this is a problem and that it's something that should be dealt with, but again he seems to just be putting up hard borders and focusing on preventing anyone from entering the US illegally, rather than looking at whether our current policies regarding legal immigrants are reasonable, determining how we might be able to make illegal immigrants active and useful members of our society and economy, or how to make coming here illegally less attractive.

He also doesn't say anything in the "issues" section of his website regarding domestic policy concerning poverty, slavery trade, improving public education and access to education, etc. He does talk about tax breaks for home-schoolers and making home-school diplomas and credentials as meaningful as public school credentials, and that's fine, but the simple fact is that not everyone is going to, or going to want to, or going to be able to, home-school their children, and it seems prudent to address other forms education as well. Also, if he's going to encourage home-schooling so strongly, I would like to see him also encourage social interaction for those children as a part of that.

I disagree with his determined view on the right to bear arms, particularly on the right to carry them in public places. I think that a lot of civilians having guns on them in a situation like the school shootings that have become more and more rampant would only cause more confusion and chaos. For instance, if the police come to a school/university where there is a shooting, to find 40 students or teachers firing guns, who do they go after? Also, how do you ensure proper training and usage of those firearms? How do you know that those 40 students or teachers with firearms might not do more damage than the one student who started it?

I agree with some of his policy on reducing goverment's internal intelligence, and I agree with his statement that troops should be removed from Iraq, and that we should be less eager to go to war in the future. I agree with his policy on abortion.

Ok, on to Barack Obama:

I like his foreign policy more than Ron Paul's. He seems much more willing to be involved in the international community, to be a part of a whole, and not so much a single country standing against the rest of the world. I like the idea of disarmament, both of terrorists and of ourselves in terms of nuclear weaponry. Personally, I'd be plenty happy to just see us dispose of all the nuclear weaponry that exists, but I know that's not likely to happen.

I like a lot of his ideas regarding domestic policy, healthcare, environment, education, poverty, etc - but a lot of it seems like it would require a good bit of money, that at least in the "issues" section of his website, the sources of funding aren't really explained. I like his idea of becoming less dependent on foreign oil, both from an energy/pollution point of view as well as a political point of view. I do like in his healthcare policy, that pressure would be put on companies to either provide health insurance for their employees, or bump up wages so that employees could afford to buy insurance, with the exception that small companies meeting certain revenue thresholds would be exempt.

Increasing the size of the military to me raises immediate red flags, especially since his foreign policy seems to be that military action should be the last resort in dealing with a problem, which I think is good. I agree that having a good military is important, but it seems to me that we already have one, particularly in relation to the rest of the world. I like his ideas of modifying training to fit modern situations.

I like the idea of a more open government, especially after the current administration which is willing to look like monkeys throwing poo in order to keep a closed government. I'm a bit skeptical, however, about how well that would actually work.

I like his idea of protecting America by being an active and more importantly positive influence in the rest of the world, by actually working together with other countries and working to better their situations, not only for our own political or economic gain - because again, what happens to them effects us whether we like it or not. I think that's an important idea.

Please feel free to make any comments if you feel I'm not seeing a part of an issue or misinterpreting how a candidate views a particular issue. I'm hoping I find someone I can feel reasonably ok in voting for :)

3 comments:

  1. It seems to me that one of the central areas where you and I would differ on is the role of government. Ron Paul (and the older "paleo"-conservatives) believe in the concept of limited government. He believes in personal responsibility for actions rather than relying on a government to shoulder the blame or the cost of people's problems. A government that is always "there for us" is a government that must possess virtually limitless power. If we agree to limit our right to bear arms and place that control exclusively with the government, the government (at least in one aspect) now is an a position of total domination over us. Lord Acton's much quoted "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" seems to be very well supported historically.

    I want a government that rewards the good and punishes the evil. If I could be sure that a form of government, a king, or a dictator could give us that, I would sign on. However, humans are a generally bad lot (again from from Lord Acton, "Great men are almost always bad men") and the reality is that things go sour very quickly when too much power is vested in too few people.

    This is America. We (the people) ARE the government but we've largely stopped participating. Few people vote and those that do are generally mislead by the power structures (Hollywood, mass-media, public education). The reason this works is that we're afraid to accept responsibility for own actions and although we dislike being told what to do, it beats having to live with bad decisions that we are responsible for.

    I believe that the governments role should be minimal. I believe that there always be pain and suffering in this world despite anyone's "best effort" but I don't think that the government can possibly do a better job than individuals touched with the grace of God. It is we as Christians that can transform the world and help those around us. Tacking all of our individual responsibilities to a government seems a sure way that those few in power of that government will mess it up.

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  2. I would agree with you that people SHOULD take personal responsibility for their actions (and that, fundamentally, everyone IS responsible for their actions, whether they admit it or not), however, it's apparent that quite often they don't, and most of the time they don't think about what the consequences of their actions might be for others. I feel a little bit on the fence about government regulating things in general, but I think that it's good for government to regulate in ways that help to preserve society and the order of society - to a certain basic extent. I mean, one of the founding principles of the U.S. is that as a democracy we come together and forfeit certain individual freedoms in order to have a sustainable society. But the fact is, that people are selfish and take those back. I don't believe that bearing arms in public places is a fundamental right of humanity, and I don't believe it's particularly beneficial either, except maybe in very specific cases. Perhaps I'm simply too much of an idealist/pacifist/etc, but I don't think that people just walking around freely with weapons helps to make a stable and safe society.

    I agree that the democratic process in America is a bit wonky at present, and that a lot of people either don't participate, or only participate in the ways they are told to by one influence or another, largely by corporate-supported media, certain religious figures with their own agendas, etc - I think this is true with a lot of peoples' behavior in general.

    I also think that too much power in the hands of too many is dangerous, which is largely what has happened with the implementations of communism around the world. I certainly agree that there should be very definite limits on the power of government and what they can and can't control or restrict or require, maybe just at a bit higher level than you would agree to.

    I also completely agree with you that there will always be pain and suffering in the world no matter what anyone does, believe me, I have spent plenty of time thinking about that - and I also completely agree that a government will never do as good a job of helping as individuals and small, non-governmental organizations. However, I believe it's important for a government to be involved in these issues for a few reasons, in no particular order of importance - first of all, it makes the issues visible to the citizens of the country, and makes it a worthwhile endeavor in many of their eyes. secondly, I believe that it is a national matter, as what goes on in the rest of the world effects our country. It's a matter of security, a matter of diplomacy, it makes a big difference in our interaction with governments globally if they know we are willing to help at all, and help not solely for our own agenda, but to honestly help those who need it as well. I see government in this role being more of a facilitator and less of a do-er. To help facilitate others who can more effectively practically help those who need it.

    I agree that it would be nice to have rulers that were benificent and good, and I also agree that humans generally tend to display their negative tendencies most often. However, I think this happens both individually and corporately, so you have to find some kind of balance between personal freedom and social restriction - and obviously people are always going to disagree on what the level should be (and some as to whether there even should be restriction at all).

    I'm glad for this discussion, I'm thinking about this stuff really in depth this year for the first time I think.

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  3. I mean too much power in the hands of too few, not too many :)

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